Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/144

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ards of this species, but I never saw a second bird that attained more than two thirds of the weight just specified; usually they do not exceed fourteen or fifteen pounds. The flesh is very tender and palatable; indeed, to my notion, it is the best-flavored of all the game-birds found throughout this portion of South Africa.

It being now the breeding season, the numerous flocks of Guinea-fowls in the neighborhood afforded us a constant supply of fresh eggs, which, as has been said elsewhere, are excellent.

Schmelen's Hope swarmed with termites, or white ants.[1] My ideas of ant-hills were here, for the first time, realized; for some of the abodes of this interesting though destructive insect measured as much as one hundred feet in circumference at the base, and rose to about twenty in height! Termites are seldom seen in the daytime; but it is not an unusual thing, after having passed a night on the ground, to find skins, rugs, &c., perforated by them in a hundred different places.

In constructing their nests, the termites do not add to them externally, as with the species of ant common to England, but enlarge them from within by thrusting out, so to say, the wall. Their labors are commonly carried on in the dark, and at early morn each night's addition to the building may be discovered by its moisture. "They unite," says the "English Cyclopædia," "in societies composed each of an immense number of individuals, living in the ground and in trees, and often attacking the wood-work of houses, in which they form innumerable galleries, all of which lead to a central point. In forming these galleries they avoid piercing the surface of the wood-work, and hence it appears sound, when the slightest touch is sometimes sufficient to cause it to

  1. For a detailed account of this curious and interesting insect, see Mr. Westwood (British Cyclopædia); Mr. Savage (Annals of Natural History, vol. v., p. 92), &c.